Wednesday, November 30, 2011

946 Soak the Poor

946 Soak the Poor

These flaming liberals have it all wrong.  Soak the poor, not the rich!  And the old.  Boomers?  Punks, every one of them.  Think the world owes them a living.  And the REAL old?  They’re even worse.

Look at the assets these creeps absorb.  Medicare.  Medicaid.  Social Security.  Disability.  Food stamps!  Pouring money down the sewer.  In the meantime we job creators and hard working small business owners are being pushed around like a bunch of geese by a border collie.

It’s time to stand up for our rights as free Americans!  The poor, the old, the disabled --ingrates--  are stealing from the rest of us.  They don’t understand how much we’ve done for them.  

You say the poor have nothing to tax?  Baloney! Every one of them has hidden assets.  Let them sell their trailers and their assisted living condos or at least stop using subsidized heating fuel. Let ‘em burn grass clippings or leaves if they’re not too lazy to rake them up and save them.  Get their hidden money out of their offshore bank accounts and their bug-infested mattresses.

They have cars and trucks.  Sell ‘em for scrap and let the owners ride the bus and the subway.  Take away their flat screens and sell ‘em.

The homeless?  What’s REALLY in those stolen shopping carts they all seem to push around!  And while we’re at it, let’s sterilize those single mothers.  Sluts!  Can’t keep their legs closed!  They keep pumping out litters for more welfare.

And if you can’t eliminate welfare, tax it, too.

Damned commies!  They’re taking over.

Holiday Season Shopping Tip:

If you’re a CVS customer, be cautious of those “Extra Bucks” deals.  First, ads for products with “Extra Bucks” rebates are misleading if you only glance at them, provoking many to believe advertised prices are lower than they really are.  Second, “Extra Bucks” have short shelf lives, are easy to forget and easy to misplace.
  Third:  If you’re buying a lot of stuff at the same time, split the purchase.  Get the “Extra Bucks” item or items paid for first, and then use the rebates on the rest of the stuff you’re buying.  This doesn’t work for single item purchases.



Shrapnel:

--When will newspapers learn that no one much cares and fewer are influenced by their endorsements?  Latest example is the recent full-width-front-page editorial in the Manchester NH Union Leader backing Gingrich.  The only New Hampsherites who want Newt are democrats because he’s easier to beat in the general election than Romney will be.

--Ford says it’s ending production of the Crown Victoria sedan, which means every police department still using it will have to look elsewhere.  The Crown Vic had authority; gravitas; the ability to instill fear when you got pulled over. Can you imagine Smokey being as intimidating in, say, a Kia?

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

945 Low Battery

945 Low Battery

ATT’s acquisition of T-Mobile isn’t dead, but it might well be any day now.  And it couldn’t happen to a nicer outfit, ATT, which will be forced to pay Deutsche Telkom billions if the present low battery runs completely out of juice.  How’s THAT for an early termination fee!

The Justice Department doesn’t much care for this corporate maneuver.  The Federal Communications Commission ain’t overjoyed either.

And the companies have withdrawn their request for FCC approval.  They need that because wireless phone carriers are licensed broadcasters who use radio transmission to get the signal from phone to phone by way of the cell towers.

Both companies insist the deal is still on.  So why would they rescind their license applications?   Easy.  Because once the FCC starts to act on the paperwork, information that’s now secret becomes public.

And what’s in those secret filings?  No one knows for sure, but you can bet on this:  whatever’s there contradicts statements everyone’s been making in public.

ATT has been advertising the benefits of the acquisition.  More jobs.  Better service.  Blah blah blah.  Do the secret filings contradict any or all of that?  We don’t know.  But insiders in both companies do.  So what are they hiding?

Meantime, T-Mobile is talking about closing retail stores that are too near ATT equivalents (more jobs?) And it’s probably not keeping up with the perpetually changing hardware market.  How can they buy the latest stuff if they expect to be taken over?

ATT insists in public that this deal will improve service.  That’s probably true, given the stinking coverage and call dropping they offer.

Deregulation was supposed to increase competition.  How does one giant devouring another affect that?  Take a look at the airlines, the broadcast industry in general, the NBC/Comcast deal, any of the zombie banks.

Bailout for telco down the road?  AT&Too Big To Fail, anyone?  An acquisition of T-Mobile by, say, poor, beleaguered Sprint might make more sense.  Sprint needs all the help it can get if it’s going to compete with the other big guys and the throwaway phones and the Jitterbug Phones, the AARP phones and land lines and calling cards and wrapping notes around bricks and sending them sailing through windows.

The whole deal centers on ATT wanting to be bigger than Verizon, once itself a baby bell.  What would be the advantage in that, besides bragging rights?

This battery isn’t holding its charge.   But don’t worry, guys, we’ll be glad to supply new ones in return for a new two-year contract.



Shrapnel (mergers and acquisitions edition):

--There’s almost no such thing as a merger.  It’s almost always a takeover.  And this is nothing new, it goes back to the earliest days of commerce in this country.

--So why use the term “merger?”  Because it’s prettier than “devour,” and it fools a lot of people.  Fooling a lot of people is one of the major goals of corporations with something to hide.

--All this goes back at least two thousand years.  Was the merger of the New Testament into the Bible a merger?  Or was it a takeover that used the original name, kind of like when Chemical Bank took over Chase and called itself by the better-known Chase name?

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

944 Black Friday

944 Black Friday

This is that day.  This tough- to- understand and awkward phrase applies to the Friday after Thanksgiving when retailers say they stop using red ink and start using black on their ledgers (do any of them use ink, or have ledgers for that matter?)  Seems hard to imagine that they have to go well into the eleventh month of any given year to turn a buck.  But that’s what they claim.

Here are some store reviews and comments, a little something to read on line as you wait to check out of MegaMart:

What hurts Best Buy:  diminished customer service.  Diminished need for and availability of expert floor help as people become more knowledgeable about electronics and shift to Costco and its siblings and to Amazon.com, Tiger.com and Newegg.  BBY is not always competitive on major appliance prices or selection.

Radio Shack:  probably gets a boost from its recently renewed affiliation with Verizon, especially where their other cell phone carriers (A&TT, Sprint) have inferior signals. But overall, they're in trouble from the same competitors as BBY and because there's almost no margin in some of the small stuff they sell.

What hurts mall Jewelers (Kay, Gordon’s, etc.) overpriced, complex conditions in their warranties.  Increased competition from TV shopping channels (primarily the smaller ones, JTV and ShopNBC.)

Macy's:  the last traditional national mid-price full line department store chain standing.  They have a pricing policy that seems completely unrelated to their costs, which means some things there have to be overpriced to make up for all the cutting they do in clothing and accessories.   They've recently ended their contract with the outfit that leased the better jewelry department and have started running it themselves, an improvement.

Look for a reasonably good holiday results from the high-end chains, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus.  Saks just was hit with a pretty big price-per-foot increase at its Fifth Avenue flagship store.  You know who’s going to pay for that.

What hurts Wal-Mart: bad front ends. Checking out is slower than almost anywhere else on earth.  (City and suburban CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreen and Duane Reade locations are worse.)   Wal-Mart is a store of last resort.

Sam’s Club, the Wal-Mart- owned answer to the unfortunately-named B.J.’s Wholesale Club and Costco suffers from the same slow checkout and carries less stuff than its competitors.

Costco benefits from consistently good Consumer Reports Magazine ratings of its house brands.


Target:  trying to promote itself as low priced and fashionable non-Wal-Mart Wal-Mart.  People are attracted to logical displays and decent checkout.  Target is going big into groceries, an iffy, low-margin, high shrinkage area.


TJMaxx & Marshalls:  TJs are better run than jointly owned Marshalls, and both are more upscale than prime competitor, Ross.  

Bed Bath:  overpriced, and a bad stop for claustrophobic shoppers.  Sloppy front end.

Sears:  Eddie Lampert hasn't killed it yet.  But wait until there's a rebound in real estate and they and K-mart are gone with the wind.  Sears-owned Lands' End probably will survive because of its huge loyal customer base.  But it’s being hurt, by year-round free shipping from LL Bean, and smart merchandising from the other Eddie, Bauer.  Sears still is a good place to buy tools and major appliances.  Consumer Reports loves their Kenmore brand.  Some Kenmore owners and repair people don’t and shouldn’t.  They sell plenty of good name brands alongside their own.

Furniture:  Buy floor models or stuff that’s in the warehouse and that you’ve personally inspected.  Don’t order anything from anybody. Period. Inspect your purchase before it leaves the truck and if unacceptable, don’t accept delivery.

Craft stores:  You want to solve the terrorism problem?  Lock the suspects up in one of these places for a couple of hours and they’ll confess to anything. No water board required (or included.)

Not recommended: K-Mart (prices, quality,) Lowe’s (limited selection in all but the largest units,)  Old Navy (unless you’re looking for wear-once-throw-away,) Dollar General (see K-Mart.)  Pay-Less Shoes (see Dollar General,)  GNC (same kind of stuff is available at the big box discounters or any drug store and comes with a whole lot less theatrical b.s. plus you’ll pay much less.) Any candle shop, Pier One, Bath & Body Works (see “Air,” below.)

Air:  Newer stores and many malls are generally badly ventilated, reason enough to stay away and shop on line unless you don’t mind breathing stale air and fabric particles.  Many also are overheated and alternately over-cooled.  Some older buildings share this problem, but not all of them.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

943 Arthritis of the Whosis

943 Arthritis of the Whosis

When you do something stupid, you pay for it.  But sometimes when you don’t do something stupid, you still pay for it.

A long time ago a twisted knee turned into arthritis and a torn “whosis.”  (Whosis is one of those “un-official” and crypto-technical medical terms for something no one can spell or pronounce.)  This was from an act of stupidity.

This particular “whosis” is in the left knee.  The knee has been a traveling companion for almost 70 years.  The banged up, twisted, torn whosis has only been around for a few years.   

It was an act of stupidity that produced it.  But most of the time, it’s tamed.  Housebroken, if you will.  Sometimes, though, it asserts itself for no obvious reason. Like now.  And that’s not from an act of stupidity.

When your whosis flares infrequently, you forget what you’ve been taught about treating it.  So... let’s buy a heating pad.  Here’s one that says you feel heat in 30 seconds.  Made of a plushy kind of fabric you can hand wash.  Electronic controls.  Six levels of heat.  Mmmmm … feels goood.  

But it doesn’t do much for the pain.  

Wait, don’t they say try ice?  Yes!  But ice is too cold.  So how about rubber banding a refrigerated water bottle to the knee.  Not quite as cold as ice.  But cold enough.  And the grooves in the bottled water bottle prevent it from slipping out of the rubber band and forcing you to pick it up, which you can’t because when the knee goes, everything else in the body compensates and you get aches where you never knew there was anything to ache.

There are disadvantages.  For example, the imbecile in the parking lot who says “Hey, Mack, you know you have a water bottle on your knee?”  “Oh, really? Wow, you’re right. Hey, how’d that get there?”

Water bottle on the knee is a lot better that water on the knee.

The orthopedists tell you ice the knee for 20 minutes at a time.  Who has 20 minutes to sit there and hold an ice pack?  The rubber banded water bottle is a nice compromise.  Maybe wearing it in public isn’t the brightest idea.  Or even the coldest.  But it beats sitting there for 20 minutes at a clip, cooling your heels … or your whosis.

Is there a waiting list for prospective whosis transplants?  Is this part of the organ donor program?


Shrapnel:

--You can’t make this stuff up:  a breast cancer awareness cement truck.  Really.  All pink -- cab, doors, roof, trailer --  everything except the big cylinder that actually holds the cement... and that has a huge pink “awareness” ribbon decal on the side.

--Think they’ll come up with a waterproof Kindle?  Might not be a bad idea considering how much reading is done in the bathroom.  Brings a whole new meaning to the term “dirty books.”

--Martha Stewart taught us all (again) the other night how to cook a turkey.  Hers came out picture perfect.  Makes you wonder how many re-takes they did to get that segment right and that turkey as perfect as a Norman Rockwell painting... and what they did with the eight or nine turkeys that turned out like most of ours usually do, and that you didn’t get to see.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

42 Dramatis Personae

942 Dramatis Personae    

(State College, Pa.) -- The situation here is getting so complicated, you need a scorecard.  Kind of appropriate for what is at least marginally a football story.  Unfortunately, the players don’t wear jerseys with their names on their backs, a Penn State tradition.  But these guys don’t even wear numbers.  So, starting at the top, here are the big ten:

1. Joe Paterno:  He’s the Kellogg’s of college football.  Kellogg’s is a giant maker of breakfast cereal.  It’s universally loved, has been around forever, and is of generally of high quality.  But every once in awhile, there’s a recall because some evil stink gets into the boxes.  No worries.  It’s only a breakfast cereal.  There are plenty of others.

Paterno is a giant among football coaches.  He’s been around forever, was until now universally loved and was generally of high quality.  He too has been recalled for a stink.  But it’s only football.  He isn’t charged with doing anything wrong.  In fact, he did almost nothing at all.

(Paterno’s diagnosis of a “treatable form of lung cancer” is unfortunate, but that doesn’t change the Sandusky affair.  We wish him recovery; think the university trustees acted in too hastily in firing him.  But that doesn’t change the Sandusky case, either.)

2. Graham Spanier: Former president of Penn State University.  He is the General Motors of college presidents.  A big wheel, around forever, a lot of people buy the stuff even though it’s often second rate.

Spanier was among the longest serving of American college presidents, and as with GM there are what car guys call “quality issues.”  Like the bottom feeder Chevy Aveo.  He does magic tricks and plays washboard in a folk music band.  Like the Aveo, he’s been discontinued.  But really he’s only another corporate honcho who fell off the roof, replaced by his second in command, a guy whose only virtue is he’s not Spanier.

3. Jerry Sandusky:  The retired former defensive coordinator of the Penn State football team, a Paterno pal, at least at one time; founder of a charity for at risk little kids, “The Second Mile,”  accused of child molesting and kid rape, and issuing regular claims of innocence.

Behind his back, they call him the Second Mile Pedo-phile.  Gave off a vibe that makes you want to shower even before all the current events. Sandusky’s Penn State pension is $59-thousand a year.

4. Joseph Amendola:  Sandusky’s lawyer.  He gets a lot of the highest profile cases around here and is the king of plea bargains.  He also gives off an iffy vibe that gets even iffier when you learn that at the age of about 50 he had an affair with a 16 year old girl he represented, fathered a kid with her when she was 17 and married her, not necessarily in that order.  They are no longer together.  

Amendola may or may not be expecting a big payday out of all this.  But you can bet a case like this ain’t bad for business.  Digression: the age of consent in PA is 16, so there was nothing illegal about sex with that kid. Further digression:  Sandusky is entitled to a lawyer.

5. Tom Corbett:  The pudgy faced governor of Pennsylvania, a member of sorts of the Penn State board of trustees which ridded the school of Paterno, Spanier and a few others.  Corbett was Attorney General for much of the time the case against Sandusky was building and mounted an anemic  CYA investigation that led nowhere and now says law enforcement didn’t act aggressively enough at the time.  Huh?

6. Mike McQueary: on administrative leave as an assistant football coach and former graduate assistant to Paterno.  McQueary either did or didn’t witness a Sandusky boy rape, either did or didn’t stop it when he either did or didn’t see it; did or didn’t talk to the cops afterward.

7. Franco Harris: Washed up NFL hall of famer, ex Nittany Lion All-American football star and head of a Pittsburgh charity who came riding into town seeking publicity by inviting newly promoted university higher ups to a diner where, presumably, they would genuflect and then explain to him why they fired his idol, Paterno.  

As a result, the mayor of Pittsburgh asked Harris to resign from the charity and the Meadows Racetrack and Casino told him not to show up for his day job which is something between greeter and spokesman.

8. Tim Curley:  Penn State Athletic Director put on paid “administrative leave” and supposedly Paterno’s boss.  Paterno’s boss?  Who are you kidding.  Only when it came time for Joe to kick what he knew up the chain of command.  Curley faces perjury charges, of which his university-paid lawyer says he’s innocent.

9. Gary Schultz:  Former Penn State official whose duties included supervision of the university police.  The Patriot-News newspaper of Harrisburg says he received a lump sum of $422,000 when he retired in 2009 and whose yearly pension is $330,000.  Schultz came out of retirement to become vice president for finance.  He has since re-retired, now faces perjury charges and claims through his university-paid attorney that he is innocent.

10. Jack Raykovitz: recently resigned CEO of Sandusky’s charity, in which he worked for 28 years.  The resignation was sudden, unexpected and unexplained.  But the charity is reported preparing to disband and shopping its programs around to other organizations in hopes of keeping some of its work alive which Second Mile officials deny.  Sort of.

11. Leslie Dutchcot:  Local judge who set relatively low bail for Sandusky without disclosing her ties to his charity, which remain unclear.  Judge Dutchcot has been removed from the case.

12. Kenneth Frazier: Penn State grad, Penn State trustee, head of the school’s internal investigation, CEO of the pharmaceutical maker Merck.  While general counsel for the drug company led the company’s defense of Vioxx which was said to increase the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Note that this list was billed as the “Big Ten” and there are 12 names.  Well, if the Big Ten college football conference can have 12 teams, this list of ten can have 12 names.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011


Friday, November 18, 2011

941 Free Lunch

941 Free Lunch

One of the supermarket tabloids reported this, so it must be at least as true as the space alien baby kidnappers and the ghosts in the attic:  You can get a decent meal out of a dumpster and never get your hands dirty.

Well, almost never.

The paper says that under cover of darkness, you can stalk the dumpsters of the fanciest restaurants around and come up with discarded food, often carefully packaged and sealed against whatever else lives in the dumpster.  Same with fast food joints like Starbucks, whose franchise agreements demand owners throw out perfectly good stuff at the end of the day.

Save a bundle on groceries that way.

Restaurants don’t donate this stuff to food pantries because they fear law suits that result from someone eating something contaminated.  Same with supermarkets which discard packaged food with “sell by” dates that have passed by only several hours.

A recent exploration found a dozen packages of salad, some neatly wrapped onions a few boxes of soup mix and a few pounds of chopped beef in a dumpster.  All were expired by something like five hours.  In cold weather, that’s like taking the stuff home and leaving it in the refrigerator a day or two beyond the “sell by” date.

Required tools for your own Operation Dumpster:  a box of disposable gloves, a roll of paper towels, a stepladder, a flashlight and a supply of decent garbage bags.   Put on the gloves, climb up the ladder, shine the light in the dumpster, fish around a bit, take what you see, wipe it down with the paper towels and, presto, free lunch.

Is this stealing?  Probably.  Will you get caught?  Maybe.  Will you be prosecuted?  Probably not.  Will you be sickened?  Also, probably not.  Something you’ve retrieved raise questions?  Do what many sport fishermen do: catch and release.

Shrapnel (Penn State Update Edition):

--Defrocked Penn State president Graham “I knew nothing” Spanier, it turns out, isn’t fully defrocked.  A local news website reports he remains a tenured professor.  We love it when a guy in trouble lands on his feet.

--You really have to feel sorry for the poor schlump who is the announcer for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.   He is being pounded by phone calls and hate mail.  That’s because he has the misfortune of being named... Gerry Sandusky (no relation.)

--The Vienna Boys Choir has scheduled a concert at an on-campus venue for next month.  Careful in the showers around here, kleine jungen.  And lawyers, lock up your innocent clients.

Note to readers:  I promised that I wouldn’t write any more than the previous posts about the situation at Penn State in state college.  I lied. Mostly to myself.  There are so many details, so much speculation, so much wringing of hands and so much salacious nonsense associated with this story that it begs for additional perspective from someone outside the community but who lives there.

Until something happens in court -- if ever it really gets beyond the preliminaries -- this is the point on the story’s two-way time line that observers focus on minutia.  And so will we in the coming days, following right along with gory details that may be of interest to other outsiders, which most readers here are.  Monday, 11/2:  An introduction to the cast of this soap opera.  Stay tuned, as we used to say before radio died.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

940 A Visit To The Doctor

940 A Visit To The Doctor

White coat syndrome, my foot.  Your blood pressure goes up when you visit the doctor because no doctor keeps appointments on time.  Which is why you should always try to get the first appointment of the day.  It’s hard to be half an hour or 45 minutes late -- to be behind schedule -- when you’re just starting the day.  Hard, but not impossible.

In any event, this “visit” could have been done by telephone.  But the co-payment’s only ten bucks, and the office is right around the corner in a storefront, conveniently located next to a Petco and just down the block from a vacant former Circuit City store.

Cause of the visit?  The meds were getting confused and mixed up and changing in effectiveness, so maybe a face to face sitdown would be better.

Doc bustles into the treatment room, takes the blood pressure reading.  We talk.  We get the meds straightened out.  She’s on her way to the next patient in no time.  Well, not really “no” time.  But under ten minutes.

A week or so latter, comes a letter from Blue Cross.  It’s headlined “Important information about your appeal rights.”   Standard stuff on the back of which is “THIS IS NOT A BILL” followed by a rundown of who paid what for that ten minute chat.

Patient paid $10.  Blue Cross paid $90.60.  That makes the visit worth $100.60.  Ten bucks a minute. $600 an hour.  $636 an hour, if you want to get technical.

But, as they say on the flimsy gizmo TV pitches, “Wait! There’s more!”

Doc’s medical factory --er, practice -- billed Blue Cross for $306.00!

Also on the billing statement is “Note K05.”  Note K05 stipulates “This Participating Provider has agreed not to bill you for the difference between the Total Charge and the Allowable.”  Well, that’s a relief.  (Someone should talk to the billing department about the use of capital letters.)

This is the medical practice version of throw all your mud against the wall and see what sticks.  Bill three hundred bucks, get one hundred back.  Since everyone has to know that stuff like this goes on all the time, why not just skip the nonsense, bill the actual cost and be done with it?



Shrapnel:

--How pure sounding of Log Cabin to put this in big letters on the front of the bottles: “NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.”  Here’s the ingredient list from the back of the bottle:  “Corn syrup, liquid sugar (Natural sugar, water,) water, salt, natural and artificial flavor (Lactic acid, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, preservatives (sodium benzoate, sorbic acid), caramel color, phosphoric acid.”   Ah, but none of that nasty high fructose corn syrup.

--There is no truth to the rumor. Quaint and historic Sandusky, Ohio is NOT going to change its name.  Known for its dullness, its trees and as the home of the late, lamented Lyman Boat Works, this “city” on Lake Erie says it’s fine with keeping the name, blackened though it has become.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and fake bills to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

939 It's An "Urban Problem"

939 It’s An “Urban Problem.”

(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Some guys here have the sense to keep their mouths shut.  There were callers to the Wessays™ radio program, comment writers to this site and to the local newspaper who speak in code.  They call any crime committed here “an urban problem.”  One likes to blame everything that goes wrong here -- and that can be plenty -- on the region’s continuing importation of “urban people.”

We all know what that means.  Well, maybe not “we all.”  For those who don’t, it means people with dark skin.  It’s an insult to Americans of African or Caribbean heritage, people from the Indian subcontinent, people from the Middle East and, yes, even to us city born and raised people with white skin and light eyes.  We’re “urban,” too.

These racists and ruralists have gone to ground now in the face of what may be the worst man-made thing to happen in his region since Pennsylvania’s 18th century home-grown murder sprees.  Turns out our little boy rape and cover-up machine is the work of local rural white people.  Oh, yeah, defrocked football saint Joe Paterno is from Brooklyn.  And he’s of Italian extraction which makes him almost black by the standards of the “urban problem” crowd.  But he’s been here longer than most of the born-here racist slime have been alive.

The defrocked university president, Graham Spanier, is from Cape Town, South Africa and is white and Jewish.  And the locals, if they know this, don’t know what to make of it.  He looks like Leslie Nielsen (a lot of bigwigs around here do, including the governor, and that’s close enough to survivalist-woodsman libertarian country boy enough for them.

The Pennsylvania State University has appointed a panel to investigate the henhouse.  The fox-in-chief, a fellow named Kenneth Frazier, is a member of the board of trustees who also is CEO of Merck, the pharmaceutical giant.  He was a Philadelphia lawyer, turns 57 years old next month, and is a graduate of Penn State and Harvard Law. And he is... um... Urban.  In fact, he’s the first Urban-American to become chief executive of a major drug company.  Previously as the company’s general counsel, he was a leader if not the leader of Merck’s Vioxx defense.  Now he’s leader of the investigation here.  That’s almost poetic.  Almost.

The point of all this?  Urban, suburban, rural, white, black, whatever.  Shameful crime is shameful crime.  And anyone here who knew about this stuff or saw this stuff and did nothing or did the legal minimum to stop it is guilty to some degree.


Shrapnel:

--Can the accused boy-lover, Jerry Sandusky get a fair trial in Centre County, Pennsylvania?  Probably not here or anywhere nearer here than Neptune.  The inclination is to say “so what?” but that would be unamericanly unjust to the defendant, as if anyone here cares or should.

--There’s a pretty good chance these cases won’t go to trial.  It’s hard to conceive of it all not ending in some kind of plea bargain, if only to protect the victims.  Sandusky is still saying he’s innocent, but that’s what they all say.

--Paterno has hired a high powered Washington lawyer, apparently anticipating suit filings against who-knows-how-many.  What does that tell us?   And what does that indicate that Joe might know that we don’t yet?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com   (even if you’re part of the “urban problem.)
© WJR 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

938 Herman Cain's Blond/Blonde Problem

938 Herman Cain’s Blond/Blonde Problem

Someone’s lying.  Either that, or someone’s a total blond (as opposed to a total blonde, the distinction, originating with the Associated Press, the New York Times and other news organizations which dictate that their writers use “blonde” for women and “blond” for men.)

Herman Cain, who often acts as if he’s a stereotypical blond, says he can’t ever remember meeting one of the blonde women who accuse him of improper sexual behavior.  That’s the kind of statement you expect from, say, Goldie Hawn or Judy Holiday or Marie Wilson who gained fame and fortune for decades playing dumb blondes, but who were anything but dumb (and possibly not blondes.)

It’s the kind of statement you get from accused mobsters in court and on the witness stand.  “Do you remember when So-and-so walked into your office, pulled out a gun and demanded that you forgive his loan?”  “I do not recall that.”

So Cain likes women.  Good.  So he maybe makes “improper” advances.  Not so good, but not the end of the world.  The question is who is lying.  Cain either does or doesn’t remember the woman.  Paratroop lawyer Gloria Allred, the Al Sharpton of women’s rights, who drops behind enemy lines to defend damsels in distress, thinks Cain’s un-truthing.

Maybe.  Maybe not.  Cain blames his troubles on either his foes in the Republican Presidential primaries or Democrats who fear his candidacy or black liberals who can’t abide a black conservative.  And he makes a pretty clear statement about what he says “never happened.”  Okay.  Maybe he’s just a “blond.”

Trouble is, this woman isn’t the only one.  And she’s not the only blonde. Here’s where we can get into the whole racist baloney about black men and white women. Save it. This isn’t that.  This is just a probable case of horn-dog-wants-to-be-president-and-can’t-keep-his-zipper closed.  We’ve had that before. He may not remember the accuser, but at least he can remember three consecutive things he’s advocated.

Cain says he’ll take a lie detector test if “there is a reason.”  You can, too.  And there are countless websites that explain the shortcomings of polygraphy and how to beat a test.  If you don’t want to read up, pop a Valium first and you’ll pass.

Note to readers:  Comments on Wessay™ #937 The Fall of St. Joseph were fast in coming and there were many.  They were fairly evenly divided between favorable and unfavorable, with about 30% of the total originating in Central PA.

There were two suggestions that there should be an apology to readers, and one demand for one.  There were two death threats, one suggestion that I attempt an anatomically impossible sex act, a few “good job”s or “it’s about time someone said this stuff.”  There were several recommending an end to college football.  There were two from people who felt they had been previously maligned and sympathized with the plight of Coach Paterno, fired Wednesday evening in a phone call.  But most of them were variations of  “what a sad way to wind down a glorious career.”

Six or seven people wrote to say the real villain of this story is either circumstance or president Spanier of Penn State, also fired.  Another handful said Jerry Sandusky is being convicted in the media before he gets his day in court.  Still others say he should be run out of town on a rail.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and death threats to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

937 The Fall of St. Joseph

937 The Fall of St. Joseph

(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Joe Paterno is the biggest Big Man on Campus, and one way or another, he’s washed up.  JoPa, as they call him in this quaint university town in the middle of the state, surrounded by lovely small mountains and farms, and bloated by an undeserved and unearned sense of self importance, is a football coach.

But he’s not just any football coach. He’s “winning-est” "this" and the “longest lasting” "that" and the “legendary” "the-other-thing."  And he is caught on the edges of a sex scandal he might have prevented if he lived up to the press releases and other publicity that made him the most moral of moral authorities in America.

He didn’t.  So now, at Penn State University, they have a former Paterno assistant and so-called pillar of the community and founder of a respected (until now) charity to aid at-risk kids who is charged with 15 years worth of raping and otherwise sexually abusing boys aged ten through 16.  His name is Jerry Sandusky, 67, a 30- year friend of Paterno who is 84 and has been at Penn State since the Bronze Age.

Paterno was told about all this, apparently more than a decade ago.  He reported it to his nominal boss, the president of the school, one Graham Spanier, and no one did anything.  Joe isn’t facing charges, or at least is not a target of the grand jury investigation that eventually yawned around to indicting Sandusky.  But if we are to believe those press releases the school has been issuing about JoPa, he should have done more.

Two other BMOCs are facing perjury and cover-up charges.  They are the athletic director Tim Curley and the school’s business vice president, Gary Schultz whose responsibilities include running the police force -- whose members are trained sworn officers with guns and not square-badge mall cops.

Everyone’s innocent, if you ask them or their lawyers (paid for by the university in the cases of Curley and Schultz.)  Sandusky’s “charity” apparently was a source of candidates for his proclivities although it has some wiggle room about what it knew and when.

The president, Spanier, got up and made headlines by supporting Curley and Schultz “unequivocally.”  Polish up your resume.  You won’t be around long enough to watch the donations stop coming in.  He called the charges disturbing.  Not nearly as disturbing as standing up for the good old boys instead of the vulnerable young boys.

Of the community pillar, Sandusky:  Did he do it?  That’s for a jury or for plea-bargainers to decide.  Sandusky now is banned from campus where he’s been in emeritus status for a good stretch, still had an office and brought some of his “at risk” boys to the gym for some “horseplay” in the showers.

There are witnesses.  It looks like an open and shut case.  But we’re not the jury or juries or the plea bargainers.

Terrible swan song for St. Joseph (R-Brooklyn) and one he could have prevented.  The most charitable end for his storied career would be to let him finish out the season and then put his feet up and his chin up -- proud, for all but one of his accomplishments.

And Sandusky? At the request of his daughter-in-law, the court has barred him from being alone with his grandchildren.

Shrapnel (Penn State Edition):

-- The school is what’s called here a “state related university,” which is not part of the state university system but receives a good chunk of public funding.  So, PSU is a private school when the fancy strikes it but a public school the rest of the time.  There are four such colleges in the state.

--PSU is the economic engine of the region and brings some economic and employment stability to it.  But it is the athletic program in general and the football program in particular that is the economic engine of the economic engine.  This-all will not affect attendance at the games, which almost always attract at least 100-thousand attendees and countless other radio listeners and television viewers.  It should.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011